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It’s not often that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo work together on anything; however, when it comes to developing the standards that will define the semantic web, they appear to share a common goal. The theory behind an intelligent form of search has been in existence for a decade now, but so far it has remained a purely hypothetical. Whilst few would question that huge strides in search algorithms have taken place over the last 10 years, a bona fide semantic understanding of a web page and user’s intentions has proved elusive. However, Schema.org may be about to change all that.
This collaborative effort is essentially a series of directives and codes that are designed to enable a better understanding of a site’s content. In fact, many would simply suggest that it is a list of best practices bundled together. But with site owners still failing to clearly indicate the contextual basis of their pages, Schema could be the guide that encourages the necessary changes.
A semantic web would change the face of search markedly. Users would be able to find what they want with consummate ease, even if the search term used has many potential definitions, whilst Google and Bing could immediately define any page. It would present a massive shift in how we all interact with the Internet and the speed with which all processes are completed.
Web 3.0, the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, requires the collaborative efforts of all influential search platforms. Schema, which was launched last week, is here to try to provide the necessary bridging point for search engines and webmasters. It may not provide the ultimate solution, but it should be the starting point for future endeavours.
Now whether the semantic web takes a few months, years or decades remains to be seen. Clearly there is a great deal of work that must be done before it can be achieved, particularly if the last 10 years is anything to go by. With so many people still struggling with the basics of site optimisation/best practices, it may never actually be achievable. But few would argue that Schema isn’t, at the very least, an important signpost for where we are all heading.